B.C. Archaeology

Study Tours of the Ancient World


The magnificent Pont du Gard aqueduct near Nimes

Remnant of giant old, whose magnitude
Can show the scale of Nimes as once she stood,
The stranger's being thrills with feeling deep,
When thy vast outlines stretch before his eyes;
No stirring reveries in me arise,
For here did boyhood sleep.

I've heard the thousand-voiced wind at night
Sweep through thy countless arches in its might,
Till I death's renegades no more can view,
Still with their parting breath not satisfied;
Nor shades of those who in the arena died
Brandish their blades anew.

So often at the public evening fetes
The brilliant flame has lighted up thy gates,
That red reflections cast on every porch
Recall no more the nightly revelry
When Rome, debauched to gloomy energy,
Burnt Christians for a torch.

When here I bring the choice friend of my heart
On pilgrimage of poesy or art,
I leave to him to seek where Caesar swayed,
Place of proconsuls and each noble line,
And where the vestal's finger gave the sign
That plunged the fatal blade.

Dreaming of other days my mind is fain
To build from thought the Gothic wall again,
Catholic cradle of our St. Castor.
Creeping along thy steps as creeps the mould
Along the dead oak's bark, from houses old
The humble people pour.

Jean Reboul, The Amphitheatre of Nimes

The Maison Carree temple of Augustus in Nimes


This 3-week B.C. Archaeology tour explores the ancient and medieval heritage of southern France (the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis). We arrive in Nice on Emirates Airlines where we explore the ruins of the Roman settlement of Chimiez. From here we head to Aix-en-Provence, stopping en route to see the ruins of the ancient Roman settlement of Forum Julii (Frejus). Aix will be our base for 3 nights while we see the Iron Age hill fort remains of Entremont and the medieval quarter of Aix. We also visit the port city of Marseille where we tour the Roman remains and explore the ancient maritime history of the region.

We leave Aix and head to the impressive Roman ruins of Glanum (St Remy de Provence). The ruins include an extensive area around the ancient forum. We then continue to Avignon which will be our base for 4 nights while we explore the Lower Rhone valley. We start in the medieval quarter of Avignon including the Romanesque Cathedral and Palace of the Popes. The following day we head north to Orange to see the magnificent Roman theatre and fascinating museum of archaeology. The following day we head to the hill town of Vaison le Romaine which has some beautiful remains from the Roman and medieval periods. These include the 11th Century cathedral and castle.

Our tour then takes us south to see the Roman ruins of Barbegal which include an aqueduct and unique industrial quarter. In the afternoon we see the impressive remains of the Roman theatre and amphitheatre in Arles. We also tour the medieval quarter of Arles with its beautiful 12th Century church. The following day is free in Arles to explore more of the city's heritage including the places associated with Vincent van Gough.

The following day we head north to the Pont du Gard, one of the most impressive Roman aqueducts to be seen anywhere. We then head to Nimes where we walk through the medieval city and experience the Romanesque Cathedral. The following day is devoted to exploring the stunning Roman heritage of Nimes including the amphitheatre, tower and Jardins de la Fontaine bath complex.

We leave Nimes and head west to Narbonne. Here we explore the medieval quarter including the 13th Century Cathedral and the ruins of a Roman warehouse. We continue on to Carcassonne which is famous for its central role in the 13th Century Albigensian heresy. We see the impressive city fortifications and 12th Century Romanesque cathedral. The next day we leave Carcassonne and stop en route to Toulouse to see the fascinating Palaeolithic cave art in the Niaux Cave. In Toulouse we see the medieval heritage of the city including an 11th Century Romanesque basilica.

We then fly to Paris where we visit the National Archaeological Museum and the nearby St Denis Chapel with its numerous medieval royal graves. The final day of the tour will be spent on the Ile de la Cite where we will visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and the stunning 13th Century Sainte Chapelle.

Day 1: Arrive Nice
Arrive in Nice and transfer to your hotel. At 7pm we meet in the lobby of our hotel and have dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Nice.

Day 2: Old Nice - Musee Terra Amata
In the morning we take a walking tour of Old Nice. In the afternoon we walk around the point to the ancient Port and visit the Musee Terra Amata which is built on the site of a camp built by Homo erectus 400,000 years ago. Overnight Nice.

Day 3: Eze - La Turbie - Cimiez
We drive east of Nice to explore the beautiful medieval hill town of Eze. There are beautiful views along the French Riviera. We also visit the monument of Augustus at La Turbie. In the afternoon we return to Nice where we see the ruins of Cimiez (Roman era Nice) and the small local museum of Roman artefacts. Overnight Nice.

The amphitheatre of Frejus
The ruins of the Iron Age hill town at Entremont

Day 4: Frejus - Entremont
In the morning we head to Frejus (ancient Forum Julii). We explore the remains of this important Roman naval base. A highlight is the cathedral with unique medieval paintings and 5th Century Baptistry. In the afternoon we continue our journey to the Iron Age hill town (oppidum) of Entremont located north of Aix-en-Provence. Excavations have revealed the settlement walls and many houses. In the afternoon we walk through the old quarter of Aix. Overnight Aix.

Day 5: Marseille
This morning we head south to the port city of Marseille (ancient Massalia) which was founded by Greek colonists around 600 BC. We explore the ancient port area where we see the Museum of the History of Marseille. After lunch we see the Museum of the Roman docks, and the Romanesque Abbey of St Victor which preserves a very early Christian crypt. Overnight Aix.

Day 6: St Paul de Mausole Asylum - Glanum (St Remy de Provence)
We leave Aix in the morning and head to St Remy de Provence where we explore the St Paul de Mausole Asylum where Van Gogh spent time. We then see the extensive ancient Roman remains at the site of Glanum nearby. A significant town in early Imperial times it preserves an impressive town centre including a forum, commemorative arch, houses, baths and mausoleum. In the afternoon we have a short drive to Avignon (Roman Avenio) where we check into our hotel. This will be our base for a few days while we explore the region. Overnight Avignon.

The Roman arch at Glanum
The medival hill town of Vaison la Romaine

Day 7: Pont du Gard - Orange
In the morning we visit the remarkable Pont du Gard aqueduct, one of the best-preserved examples of its type from the Roman world. In the afternoon we head to Orange (ancient Arausio founded by the 2nd Legion). We explore the stunning Roman theatre, the best preserved in Western Europe, and the nearby commemorative arch. Overnight Avignon.

Day 8: Vaison la Romaine
The day is spent in the hill town of Vaison le Romaine (ancient Vasio) which preserves impressive Roman and medieval buildings. In the morning we explore the excavated Roman remains including an intact bridge and see the excellent site museum. After lunch we walk through the medieval quarter which is located on a defensive hill. Overnight Avignon.

Day 9: Avignon
The day is set aside for a walking tour of the medieval quarter of Avignon. We visit the 12th Century Romanesque Cathedral and the nearby Palace of the Popes. In the afternoon we explore part of the medieval walls and see the famous bridge over the Rhone. Overnight Avignon.

Day 10: Arles
This morning we leave Avignon and head south to Arles. We explore the Roman ruins of the city including its amphitheatre, baths, forum cyrptoporticus and theatre. In the afternoon we see the magnificent 12th Century Romanesque church of St Trophime with its stunning medieval cloister. Overnight Arles.

Day 11: Free time in Arles
The day is set aside for rest and relaxation in Arles. The old quarter is a wonderful place to wander, visit a museum or gallery or you can explore the buildings associated with painter Vincent Van Gogh. Overnight Arles.

Day 12: Arles Museum - Montmajeur Abbey - Les Baux de Provence
In the morning we visit the excellent Archaeological Museum of Arles and Provence which contains artefacts from the region. After lunch we visit the spectacular remains of the 10th Century Benedictine Abbey of Montmajeur. We also take a walk in the beautiful nearby hill town of Les Baux de Provence. Overnight Arles.

The amphitheatre of Arles
The Great Tower of Nimes

Day 13: Nimes
This day is set aside for our exploration of the beautiful town of Nimes. We start with the Great Tower, and explore the Jardins de la Fontaine which were constructed around an important spring. We then see the stunning Maison Carree Temple. Built for the worship of the divine Augustus, it is the best-preserved Roman temple in Europe. In the afternoon we see the amphitheatre and visit the excellent Archaeology Museum, Overnight Arles.

Day 14: Narbonne
In the morning we leave Arles and head west to the city of Narbonne (Roman Narbo Martius). We take a walk in the old quarter and see the remains of a Roman warehouse (cryptoporticus) which lay under the Forum. We also explore the Gothic Cathedral and nearby Archbishop's palace which contains a museum of Roman artefacts from the area. In the afternoon we drive to Carcassonne. Overnight Carcassonne.

Day 15: Carcassonne
The day is set aside to explore the stunning remains of the medieval city of Carcassonne, famous for its role in the 13th Century Albigensian heresy. The outer fortifications of the city have 53 towers while the castle is protected by a ditch and drawbridge. In the afternoon we visit the 12th Century Romanesque-Gothic Basilica of St Nazarius. Overnight Carcassonne.

Day 16: Niaux Cave - Toulouse
Today we head into the Pyrenees to explore one of the few Palaeolithic cave sites which can still be accessed by the public. Niaux Cave is famous for its stunning representations of bison dating from the Magdalenian Period (17-11,000 years ago). In the afternoon we continue our journey to Toulouse where we see the Musee St Raymond which has one of the most impressive collections of Roman sculpture in Europe. Overnight Toulouse.

Nimes amphitheatre
Carcassonne castle

Day 17: Toulouse - train to Paris
This morning we explore some of the medieval heritage of the historic city of Toulouse (Roman Tolosa). We have a walk in the historic centre and see the impressive 11th Century Basilica of St Sernin, the largest Romanesque church in Europe. In the afternoon we take the train to Paris and check into our hotel. Overnight Paris.

Day 18: St Germain-en-Laye Archaeology Museum - Basilica of St Denis
In the morning we explore the National Archaeology Museum at St Germain-en-Laye. It contains an extensive collection of prehistoric and Roman artefacts. After lunch we visit the superb 12th Century Gothic Basilica of St Denis. Containing the shrine of the patron saint of France, the Basilica became the burial place of most French kings and queens including Marie Antoinette. Overnight Paris.

The Niaux Cave
Sainte Chapelle

Day 19: Sainte Chapelle - St Germain de Pres - Cluny Medieval Museum
In the morning we will visit the 13th Century Sainte Chapelle, a royal chapel in the Gothic style built by King Louis IX within the medieval palaces of the Kings of France. We will then see the Romanesque and Gothic basilica of St Germain des Pres. In the afternoon we visit the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages which is housed in the ruins of an ancient Roman bath. Overnight Paris.

Day 20: Depart Paris
Departure from Paris.

* Please note that the Company reserves the right to make alterations to the itinerary in the period up to 60 days prior to a tour departure. The itinerary may also be subject to minor re-arrangement due to the scheduling of the operators and availability of access. If this occurs, the Company will endeavour to provide a comparable alternative.


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